The Guilty (Danish)

A Dane must prove his greatness.

[In theaters and Video on Demand.] ••• “The Guilty” is a tight, efficient, 85 minutes set in a single location: the 911 call center in Copenhagen. (Except it’s not 911 over there, it’s 112. What a country!) Police officer Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) is on temporary desk duty taking emergency calls — this is evidently how the Danes punish misbehaving police — when he gets a call from a woman who’s been abducted. She doesn’t know where she is or where the vehicle is going, but it’s a van, so you know it can’t be good. Asger must figure it out and send help, all without leaving his desk. Kind of has to keep it on the down-low, too, since he’s only supposed to be dispatching calls, not solving crimes himself. Oh, and there’s a hearing scheduled for tomorrow about whatever it is he did wrong, so that’s on his mind.

Already engrossed, I got more excited when I realized the movie wasn’t going to leave the call center, like when it dawns on you that a pitcher is working on a no-hitter. Can he pull this off?? It’s tricky to execute a one-location movie without becoming visually boring, but director Gustav Moller keeps us riveted by focusing on Asger’s point of view, which is being bombarded with tiny clues to which he must pay close attention. All of his investigative work is over the phone, talking to the abducted woman (whose captor thinks she’s talking to her young daughter), witnesses, other law enforcement, and so forth. We see and hear only what he does, so we share his suspense as he waits for responses and strains to hear identifying background noises. Asger’s desire to redeem himself by saving the woman gives the story some heft, but the film works perfectly well as a surface-level thriller with more twists than its simple premise would suggest.

Crooked Marquee

B+ (1 hr., 25 min.; in Danish with subtitles; R, some F-words.)